Jun 05, 2019 Cultivate Your Style as a Facilitator
Successful facilitators and educators consciously think about their style and continually develop it in a variety of intentional ways, including reflection, feedback, continued education, and experimentation. As new facilitators, we often emulate the educators and leaders who positively impacted or inspired us. As we mature in our practice, we come to know our strengths and capitalize on them—recognizing that our unique style will be different but just as impactful. We gain confidence in our value and become more authentic through reflection and feedback. We are more able to creatively expand on ideas, intuitively read our groups, “go with our gut,” and improvise when challenging situations arise. “Failing forward”—being able to recognize mistakes and learn from them—makes one adept at handling difficult situations with confidence and finesse.
Ethical facilitators know how to set appropriate boundaries and understand their own scope of practice and limitations. Integral to the idea of experiential education is the recognition that our participants are individuals with differing needs and preferences as to how they best learn and interact in groups. Thoughtful facilitators consider the strengths and personalities that exist in every group and aim to be flexible and participant-centered. They are open to experimentation, learning from others, welcoming the unexpected, and trying new ideas and methods. This makes the work of facilitation exciting and fulfilling.
Keep learning and reflecting! Make an effort to balance research and practice. Even the most seasoned professional benefits from attending workshops, reading about theoretical foundations and innovations in the field, and keeping up with new research on learning, neuroscience, and engagement. Conversely, those who have spent a great deal of time studying theory in the academic world should regularly put themselves out there to practice facilitation. Facilitation is an art that has to be practiced. Hopefully, it is a dynamic, ever-changing growth process.
Here are some links to posts from the blog archive that explore the art and science of group facilitation and teaching: